Monday, May 31, 2010

Douglas Sirk's "A Time to Love and a Time to Die" (1958)

Buildings define spaces, and they are crumbling. War is Hell, and the lighting is Hell in A Time to Love and a Time to Die.




The only paradise is in the short moments of peace the lovers have, which are usually cut off by sirens or the bombs exploding. Still, the blossoming flowers appear everywhere...




About Sirk's The Tarnished Angels, I had said: "I felt so fragile, as if everything could break like a glass at any given moment". The same here: The whole world, everything we build might crumble down at any moment. True, this is a story at a time of war, a time of absurdity, but if we are in a world where such absurdities can happen, what does that tell about the every other moment in history? Isn't it pure luck for the lucky few that things are standing still... And what is it worth, if it's just pure luck?

Intricacies of composition, visual puzzles, filled with ruins, or the standing artifacts of civilisation (especially the museum...). Binding's house as a perfect example of how the materiality around is such a lie, just an extension of human egos (Tag Gallagher talks about "Wills"), threatened by an absurd destiny (which is forewarned by the title itself). Life itself is only a reflection, and Love slips away, even though we're trying to hold on to it (i.e. the last shot of the film).

Like Stan Brakhage says in Telling Time, aesthetics and empathy are one and the same. Film-aesthetics, not as a collection of pretty pictures, but as a rhythmic succession of durations, a perception of time-itself ("A Time to... and a Time to..."). And empathy (Tag Gallagher talks about "understanding"), not only for the characters whose stories we're watching, but also for a vision of the world (Douglas Sirk's, in this case).

Similarly, Tag Gallagher reminds us that the Greek word "Melodrama" actually consists of two words: "Melo" (meaning "Music": rhythm, form...) and "Drama" (emotions, identification, conflicts...).

There is joy in the experience of A Time to Love and a Time to Die, a dark, frightening joy...

1 comment:

Tag Gallagher said...

Yoel, please email me.

Tag